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The Story of the Mountain
Mount Saint Mary's College and Seminary

Mary E. Meline & Edward F.X. McSween

Published by the Emmitsburg Chronicle, 1911

Chapter 72 | Chapter Index

Chapter 73: 1899-1901

1899, February 6. Rev. Dennis J. Flynn, '80, joined the Faculty.

Two water hunters visited us today, the one a capitalist, the other a professional. The latter could not of course tell us where there was water, being bound to work for his employer, but described as well as possible how. through twinges of the muscles, nervous excitement, etc., he became aware of its presence. The Faculty admitted that it was scarce "dreamt of" in their "philosophy".

March 9. Clerical alumni contributed fifty dollars for the furnishing of one room each in the reconstructed seminary building, Dubois Hall. Indeed the annual catalogues show each year a list of benefactors, clerical and lay, who by gifts of altar furniture, books, paintings, curios, etc., etc., as well as by lectures, endowments of prizes, etc., exhibit their interest in the College.

March 26. It was agreed that the President should represent us at the meeting at the Catholic University and at the convention of Catholic colleges in Chicago.

April 1. The ball team was permitted to travel if they play with college teams, are back by nine in the evening, and seek no exemption from studies.

At the annual election the same officers were again chosen. A resolution of regret was passed on the demise of Bishops McGovern, '59, and Watterson, '65. The latter was born at Blairsville, Pa., in 1844. He studied two years at St. Vincent's, Latrobe, then at the Mountain, where he was graduated in 1865. He was ordained in 1868 and taught thereafter at the College Moral Theology and Sacred Scripture. He became Vice-President and was then President until chosen Bishop of Columbus. He died April 17, 1899.

A vote of thanks being tendered Cardinal Gibbons, who presided at the corporation meeting, he again expressed his satisfaction at the success of this College conducted by diocesan priests. The cost of reconstructing the seminary, Dubois Hall, was $17,870.33, and the Andora property was bought for $3000; it comprised a cottage and forty-seven acres.

August 5. Twenty-seven Jesuits from Frederick visited us today, but whether they came by foot or otherwise the records do not show.

September 13. Father McSweeny today resigned the directorship of the seminary, which he had held, with one year's interval, for sixteen years. His services were recognized by a vote of the Council and the action of the seminarians, and on November 11th Rev. John C. McGovern was elected to fill the place.

October 10. At the alumni reunion today there were thirty-two visitors.

December 3. To-day the President reported that after two and a half years' agitation and litigation the road through our grounds, immediately across the front of the College, had been finally closed on Thanksgiving Day, Novembr 30. Dies vere rubra notanda creta. The relief and satisfaction were unspeakable.

A reverend member of the Faculty offered five hundred dollars to have St. Anthony's Lake doubled in extent, but there being no bids the project dropped. He placed a boat, the Galilee, on the lake, and this afforded entertainment for the boys until the weather destroyed it after a few years.

The Mountaineer was not the success desired, although for ten successive months a prize of five dollars was awarded by a reverend member of the Faculty for the best article, and even higher rewards were proposed. The boys naturally tired of their plaything after a few years and the members of the Faculty declined writing for or even editing a students' paper. The matter was settled and the journal rapidly improved again when writing for it became a class duty in the higher English course.

December 15. It was decided to lay pipe so as to raise water from St. Anthony's lake to the great reservoir. The latter is placed up in the forest some two hundred feet above the road leading to the Grotto, and when full of water makes a beautiful picture. It holds nine hundred thousand gallons and is fed by springs. It cost about twelve thousand dollars.

Father Goad started for Athens in January to pursue Greek studies, Father McSweeny went to Palestine for three months.

In the March Mountaineer the librarian Peter Paul Keely '99 gives an account of a curious book of ours printed in Latin in 1515, and called Margarita Philosophica. It is in close black letter and is a store-house of contemporary learning, giving elements of Hebrew, Greek, logic, rhetoric, arithmatic, music, geometry, astronomy, astrology, nature, psychology, ethics, even phrenology. Another old book of the same period contains amongst other matters the judgment of the University of Paris on certain assertions of Erasmus and certain teachings of Luther.

At the May conference of Catholic Colleges in Chicago, President O'Hara read a paper on "Conditions of Entrance into our Colleges."

Right Rev. Thomas McGovern, D.D. Bishop of Harrisburg, Pa.

At the Commencement Dr. William Seton, 3rd, ex-'55, gave a medal for geology, and continued to do so till his death (1905), when he left by will five hundred dollars, the interest of which was to be used for the same object.

Rev. Dr. Edward Terry, a former professor, died this summer. Bishop Becker died in July. He had taught here for a while and seems to have been the first to advocate in the public press a Catholic university. He did this in the American Catholic Quarterly Review for April and October, 1876.

Archbishop Corrigan, '59, of New York, in a pastoral letter, October 15, spoke of the danger of sending Catholic children to non-Catholic secondary schools. The Council of Baltimore had in 1884 legislated very positively in the matter of Catholic primary or parochial schools.

Rev. John Power, '75, of Peoria, once a prefect at the Mountain, invented a game called target ball, in which all his school boys at once could take part.

The president of the alumni association, which met annually at the College or elsewhere, was Alfred D. V. Watterson, '75. The vice-presidents were: Rev. F. J. McArdle, Philadelphia; John J. Rooney, New York ; Thomas J. McTighe, Brooklyn; Win. C. Cashrnan, Boston; Rev. Thomas L. Kelly, Providence; Francis P. Guilfoile, Waterbury; Hon. Charles B. Ernst, Rochester; Thomas S. Grasselli, Cleveland; Rev. James F. Callaghan, Chicago; Rev. Joseph Flynn, Cincinnati; Rev. Charles H. A. Watterson, Columbus; Rev. John Sheridan. Louisville; Rev. M. B. Donlan, Scranton; Richard M. Reilly, Lancaster; Rev. G. Kohl, Harrisburg; Hon. N. Chas. Burke, Baltimore; Lawrence Gardner, Washington; Rev P. L. Duffy, Charleston; Dr. Dunn, Savannah . George Sullivan, Mobile; John Lagarde, New Orleans.

In December the old stone wall in front of the College was torn down, the campus extended into the groves, and the old prison aspect disappeared forever. The view to the south, when the old fences, too, were removed, gave new and wondrous joy to the beholder. How did we enter so late into our inheritance?

One of the chief subjects of anxiety for College faculties in those days, was the danger to the students from intoxicating liquors, and on January 8,1900, it was decided to sue a saloon­keeper of the village for selling intoxicants to certain students who were minors. Such suits had been brought different times since 1884, and a statute was secured that year forbid­ding the retailing of intoxicants within half a league of the college, but the most extraordinary and ingenious contrivances were devised to evade this excellent law, and the College was always more or less troubled in consequence, not so much as regarded the students, as on account of the disorder amongst its employees.

February 19. A vote of congratulation and thanks was tendered Rev. Bernard J. Bradley the Procurator, on account of the recent improvements.

We sent our hearty good wishes for the success of the educational department at the Paris Exposition, and instructed the President to attend the Convention of Catholic Colleges at Chicago.

1900. This year on the 22nd of February died Rev. John McCloskey '94, of Harrisburg, first editor of the revived Mountaineer, an ecclesiastic of extraordinary ability and promise, a model student, comrade and priest, a preacher of heroic temperance and a total abstainer. His last words words were: "Now I'm ready for the journey."

April 27th. Calvin C. Page a surveyor who had been engaged in staking out an electric road from Frederick to Gettysburg visited us today. The project naturally interested us very much.

This spring we built a barn on the site of Chloe Brookes' house, on Featherbed Lane, half a mile east of the College, and wind-machinery for pumping water was erected.

For four years no great play had been given at the College, but this year, May 9th., the ‘Purcell' presented Richelieu under direction of Mr. Richard Farrell with extraordinary success, Francis O'Brien of Wheeling in the chief role.

Special prizes in philosophy, history and mathematics, given annually by friends of the College, were awarded to the various contestants, and recorded, as usual, in the printed Catalogue. Alfred D. V. Watterson, '75, LL.D., addressed the graduates, and Bishop Blenk, of Porto Rico, championed the government against certain assailants and stated that the United States had restored to the Church property confiscated by Spain. The Bishop's speech was at once turned into Italian and cabled to Rome by Bishop O'Gorman, a member of the Embassy sent by our government to the Pope to settle ecclesiastical difficulties in the Philippines.

At the election the same officers were again chosen, and Cardinal Gibbons, who presided, approved the suggestion of a lay advisory hoard to assist in promoting the interests of the College, and appointed a committee to report on the subject at next meeting. The advisory board finally took shape in 1905, as we shall see.

On Saint Aloysius' Day, Bishop Alien said Mass with a chalice made in 1640 and used by priests of the McSweeny family from that time on. After being re-gilded it was consecrated by Abp. Corrigan, '59, who used it at the consecration of Saint Bridgid's Church, New York, this year.

This fall Frederick William Iseler resigned the professorship of music, which he had held for four years. He organized a brass band, which often entertained the Faculty, students and guests. The whole family, father, mother, son and three daughters, were musical, and "oft in the stilly night" or summer's eve melodious strains came from their home, east of the garden. At other times the family would stroll along the road, themselves sufficient for themselves, while now and then they would row about St. Anthony's Lake in the "Galilee," their great hound Martha swimming behind. It was different from the Rhine at Godesburg, but happiness or contentment seemed to reign in this little circle of which the father was the center, and as he said to the chronicler "Where I am there is happiness."

Sister Mariana Flyun, Visitatrix of the Sisters of Charity, died in the Spring of 1901 and the funeral was on March 13, the College clergy assisting. The Sisters referred to the fact as follows: "The services so kindly rendered by the president and faculty of Mt. St. Mary's College for the obsequies of Mother Mariana recall to the inmates of the Valley similar favors associated with the last sad duties paid in 1887 to Mother Euphemia, in 1866 to Mother Ann Simeon, and still further back in 1821 to Mother Seton: all still treasured gratefully at St. Joseph's."

The chronicler delights in recalling and recording the pleasant and holy relations between College and the Convent, twin children of Dubois and Brute. This history shows how much the College clergy had to do with sustaining the Sisterhood in early days, and even after the latter fell under the charge of the Vincentian priests, it was very common for those of the College to sing Mass, preach, etc., in the Convent Chapel, especially on St. Joseph's Day, the Patronal Feast, when as used to be said, "we owned the place." What an event was the midnight Mass at Christmas for the seminarians who were privileged to assist around the altar! What pleasure the boys had in visiting their relatives of a Thursday, and how welcome were the Sisters at the solemn functions in the College Chapel, or on their pilgrimage to the holy Grotto consecrated by the memory of Fathers Dubois and Brute and Mother Seton, and to the site of the latter's residence in this neighborhood!

March 25. The treasurer was authorized to remove the White House, the venerable log structure on the front terrace, in part of which the College was opened in 1808. It disappeared on Wednesday of Holy Week, April 11, and but a few walking sticks remain as souvenirs of one of our most ancient buildings. Chinquapin, where Father Dubois lived before he occupied the "Duhamel House", still stands on the Hayland farm, the very picture and reality of decay and ruin.

June 16. A resolution of thanks was passed by V. Rev. Dr. Thomas C. Moore, '63, V. G., Leavenworth Kansas, for a prize of twenty-five dollars offered to the theologians, as well as in acknowledgment of the many beautiful articles he had contributed to the Mountaineer, several of which have been used in this history.

June 19. President O'Hara was instructed to thank Georgetown College, which had conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, for its old and continued courtesy. It had frequently granted members of our Faculty honorary degrees in theology, but the conferring of such at all had been discontinued.

The erection of a gymnasium was discussed at this meeting of the Council, various sums having been contributed there for. An athletic field about four hundred feet square was meanwhile being laid out in the garden south of the College.

Rev. Thomas E. Cox, '86, lectured this fall before the House of Representatives. Jefferson City, Mo., on Methods and Morals of Taxation, and Father Mackey, ex-'59, rector of the Cincinnati Cathedral, lectured to the School of Pastoral Helpers, a Protestant society, on the History and Work of the Sisterhoods of the Catholic Church.

A convention of American missionaries to non-Catholics was held at Winchester, Tennessee, and Bishop Alien, '78, former President of the College, and Rev. Francis P. Doherty, '94, referred to the eminence of the mountain as a nurse of missionaries.

In his Report on Education for 1901, Dr. Harris, United States Commissioner of Education, embodied the address of Bishop Spalding, ex-'58, "The American Patriot;" "The University and the Teacher," and "The University a Nursery of the Higher Life." Bishop Spalding was an acknowledged authority and force in "Things of the Mind."

A writer in the College journal entertains himself and his readers with musings on

The passing of the white house.

''A pinion from the bird of Fate fell upon the mountain side, And where it fell it left a ruin."

The White House is no more. Even the lines where it once stood can scarcely be pointed out. The triangle is clear now and the stern stone facings of the present College buildings impose themselves on an unobstructed view. The change came a little ere the Eastertide. Progress had spoken. Progress, the scoffer of memories, the hard-hearted judge whose ermine is soiled by thoughts of time to come; the iconoclast of landmarks had it, and the famous old log building had to fall.

Rumor had blown surmises about, and for weeks before there was a general expectancy, not only on the part of the Mountaineer staff, who were very well satisfied with their quarters, but all the fellows were anxious. The only one who didn't seem to be excited was the old tailor, McCallion; he kept on sewing, talking to no one and listening to no one : he was a deaf mute.

Wednesday of Holy Week, 1901, was the date fixed for destruction. But it came and went; the sun shone down in all its splendor, gilded with penciled tints of golden lights, and smiled with satisfaction that the old White House was still standing. The moon came peeping over the hill, lending a silvery shading to the budding mountain side, a few stars of the further heavens blinked and blinked and followed in the Night Queen's wake to see if it were still there. No desecrating hand had begun the work of ruin. Some one seemed to hesitate as if ashamed to destroy a place made sacred by time and association. On the following day, after the exodus of editors in search of a home, some workmen ventured to the roof, and, after surveying the country for half an hour or so, began to tear up the weather-beaten shingles and throw down the chimney. The first shingle that was torn up slid down the slanting roof, wavered a moment, settled itself on a nail, as if loath to leave. Shingle after shingle followed, but none fell to the ground till the heartless wrecker pushed them along with his axe, and down they came, while the crowds of harmless eye-witnesses, who lined the benches and perched on the railings the livelong day, with patient expectation of some catastrophe, laughed and shouted and thought it was great fun. Oh! that the Mountain could hear such hard hearts, such cruel sons that can make a holiday out of the fall of the most venerable building of their Alma Mater:

"Fall upon your knees And pray the gods to intermit the plague That needs must light on this ingratitude."

That Nature abhors the ruin of its landmarks was auspiciously made known to us when, on the second day of the destruction, the skies became overcast and heavy-laden, and "the lowering element scowled o'er the dark landscape." A rainstorm howled along the welkin and fell upon the iconoclasts of the Mountain. The whole scene seemed to be a vast cathedral. The dull, slate-covered mists that rolled on and on, from peak to peak, along the broken Blue Ridge, was the cloth of mourning that fell upon a gigantic altar; the low, distant rumbling of the April thunder sounding afar from the lengthened slope of ''Achilles' Bow'' was the deep-voiced organ, and ''the hooded clouds, like Friars, told their beads in drops of rain.'' All nature was chanting a solemn requiem over the passing of an old acquaintance.

Easter, with its glad tidings and rejoicing sunshine, passed by and left the White House a roofless wreck. The following day (that the hooting rabble would not be there to jeer at the last scene), general permission was given to the College boys to go whither they pleased. A few the orphans remained behind. And even these took delight in helping the workmen pull the shattered walls apart. Some of the Mountaineer staff, actuated by a momentary frenzy, perhaps of sorrow and regret, took hold of the rope to tear their beloved sanctum down. Only one wall was now remaining. Raised by mechanics who built better than they knew, the old plastered log wall resisted for a while all efforts to level it to the ground. It swayed from one side to the other. Toppling for the nonce afar out from its position, it wavered back to the other extreme. Then it see-sawed for a moment, like a steamer on a stormy sea, trembled, shifted, tottered, lurched forward and fell. Ah! what a fall was there, brothers mine! Timber on timber, stone on stone, all buried in one confused heap. And from that heap went up a roar almost a shriek as if the earth itself had felt the wound. And far above, rising higher and higher, a great cloud of lime and dust hung over the sacred spot; the spirit of the White House was passing, and, like the genii that arose of old from the cloud of incense kindled in the magic lamp, it hovered a while as if a tale' would tell. And to those who knew its rhapsodic tongue, it told a wondrous tale: "Ah! ye do well to tear my ancient rafters down; my days are numbered; I, who have risen from the ashes of a shattered dream; I, who felt the tread of statesmen, lawyers and saints, who rejoiced with the gladsome bound of many a Carroll, and the solemn tread of a Dubois and a Brute, who heard a bishop called by his fellow "Cy," and an archbishop "Corry." [ have supported the rollicking jumps of a Cardinal and many a president in search of fun, and had I time to tell my tale I could lisp a story before which the brightest pages of your histories would pale their ineffectual fires. I have done more than ordinary work for your country and for God, and now I am passing into memory. Such is ungrateful man. But I must away; the distant clouds call me hence, and from the misty wake of the Milky Way, which most men know not, is made up of the jeweled dust of forget-me-nots, I'll watch over the Mountain and be its guiding light. I must away! Farewell, my happy home, where love forever dwells, farewell!" And, winding far above, the spirit of the White House faded into space and was lost upon the sight. Slowly the ruins were piled into the tomb itself had made, and were no more.

There came a day and sunrise. The prefect's bell rang, as usual, but with a hesitating spirit; the boys got up and went about their daily tasks ; the sun came slowly up from the vale and rose higher in the skies; the shouts of the joyful ones rang out as clear as ever, and the smoking alleys had their usual habitues blowing curly, smoky rings into the air; Greek and mathematic classes were held as usual. But the White House was no more. The sun, in the zenith of an unclouded course, looking down upon a freshly-turned grave upon the '' front terrace.'' The College buildings, hidden since their erection, open out of darkness into light and show forth their beauty as if exulting in the fall of their lifetime companion. The relic of generations had passed over to the land of apparitions and empty shades.

Chapter 74 | Chapter Index

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